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My name is Lauren Van Nest and I am a doctoral candidate at the University of Virginia (UVA) studying the art and architecture of medieval Europe. My dissertation examines the relationships crafted between objects of imperial patronage in the Ottonian Empire, their ritual environments, and the bodies of their patrons. I research the ways in which artistic materials—their form, aesthetics, symbolism—transmit concepts of divinity and power across media and iconographies. My work has been supported by a twelve-month fellowship from the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (German Academic Exchange Service) in affiliation with the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen in Göttingen, Germany. Additionally, I have been awarded research grants by the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Center for Global Inquiry + Innovation, and UVA Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. I received my undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill (B.A.) and a graduate degree from the University of Toronto (M.A.).  

I would define my duty as a College Art Association (CAA) board member as a commitment to service towards the community via cultivation and advocacy. I am passionate about developing and promoting programming that creatively adapts to the pressures facing the visual arts today and continues to make the arts more accessible to wider audiences. As the Emerging Professional Director on the Board of Directors, I would bring my own enthusiasm for the visual arts alongside my skills in project management, communicating complex ideas, and collaboration. As an organization drawing together diverse and vibrant professionals, CAA is uniquely positioned to advocate for the value of the arts nationally and internationally. During my term, I will develop robust advocacy strategies that not only promote continued federal and public funding of the arts, but also attend to the needs of CAA members through grants and workshops. I envision CAA as a partner to its individual members, navigating the various obstacles facing aspiring as well as established visual arts professionals.  

I have served in international organizations during my graduate career, including the Medieval Academy of America (MAA) and the International Center of Medieval Art (ICMA). It is in these roles that I have coordinated mentorship programming, produced podcasts, and organized roundtables on topics related to graduate and early career professionalization. I am also committed to engaging with digital humanities projects that analyze and document the history of academic institutions, namely universities (Land and Legacy) and organizations (ICMA Oral History Project). With CAA, I am able to harness my previous and future interests to contribute to the goals of the organization. 

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